On March 8, 2020, 2.75 million UAE children and their parents were informed that schools would be closing due to the global Covid-19 virus. The initial period of closure would be four weeks. As parents scrambled to adjust their schedules, teachers rushed to familiarise themselves with technology and strategies to teach from home. It was a time of tremendous uncertainty and trepidation. Eventually, the pandemic affected 1.6 billion students in 190 countries across the globe.
One year later, we are beginning to assess how the pandemic has impacted student achievement, emotional well-being and attitudes toward education technology. According to numerous surveys, including Pew Research, parents have mixed feelings about remote learning or distance learning offered by schools. Most survey respondents say they appreciate the safety and security of having their children study at home. However, many of those same parents are concerned about learning loss and their children falling behind when they are not physically in school.
Parent concerns about academic stagnation are not unfounded. According to a published study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the distance learning measures implemented by schools across the world reduced effective learning time to at best, 40 per cent. Furthermore, a study in the UK found that the average student lost nearly 3 months of learning productivity.
However, iCademy Middle East, an American curriculum online school based in Dubai, is well-known for its rigorous curriculum, AP and Honors courses, and high levels of academic achievement. Each year, iCademy Middle East graduates are accepted into some of the top universities across the US and Europe. Based in Dubai Knowledge Park, the online school is licensed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and internationally accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Universities (NEASC). iCademy proves year after year that online education can produce great results.
Prior to the pandemic, iCademy Middle East had an annual enrolment of nearly 800 students. That number has now grown to well over 1,600. “The spring of 2020 was a period of unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety. Parents turned to us for stability. Our proven strategies, well trained staff, and years of experience as an online school, gave parents peace of mind,” said Cody Claver, General Manager of iCademy Middle East.
Accredited online school vs. “crisis remote learning”
One year since the pandemic disrupted all education norms, most experts agree that online learning, in some shape or form, is here to stay. And while this reality is met with mixed feelings among parents and educators alike, it is important to know that all online or remote learning is not the same. We must draw a clear distinction between the way brick-and-mortar schools valiantly transitioned to teaching from home with five days’ notice, and iCademy Middle East’s structured and researched-based system.
iCademy Middle East is a highly advanced learning system delivered by educators who are experts in online pedagogy. Head of School, Diane Claver, and most of her academic leadership team have been employed by iCademy Middle East for nearly a decade.
A proven system
iCademy Middle East began its climb to online school dominance as K12 International Academy. K12 is one of America’s largest online education providers. K12’s Founder, Ron Packard, launched Pansophic Learning in 2014 and transformed K12 International Academy to iCademy Middle East. Despite the name change and some enhancements in technology, the school leadership team, the school values and mission, have remained unchanged for more than a decade.
iCademy Middle East does not consider itself a technology company. Their teachers will explain how technology is leveraged to make them more effective and able to reach better achievement outcomes. iCademy Middle East also strives to be community partners. By listening to the needs of their brick-and-mortar school partners and parents via social media, the online school continues to evolve while staying true to what has made them successful.
Opening in September 2021, Knowledge Hub will provide iCademy Middle East students an opportunity to receive face to face instruction and support from certified teachers. The Knowledge Hub enrolls K-12 students of all skill levels and abilities.
Free from the rigid structure of a five-day a week traditional school, the Knowledge Hub will offer two-day, three-day, and five-day options for students. The small group ratios will allow students to receive individual attention while working through their iCademy Middle East programme at their own pace. The Knowledge Hub will also feature a range of activities, including a STEM lab, music lessons, and sports and recreation facilities. The Knowledge Hub will be based in Block 5 of Dubai Knowledge Park. Registrations for September are already underway.
iCademy Middle East partners with US curriculum schools to allow their students to access online courses and meet personal learning objectives. iCademy Middle East and its sister online school, International School of Berne Online, has school partners across the UAE and as far as Prague, Czech Republic and Mauratania. AP courses, career focused electives, and credit recovery, are three ways iCademy Middle East can enhance the learning experience for a high school student. iCademy Middle East is currently accepting enrolments for its Summer Academy and the upcoming 2021 academic school year.
For more information on iCademy Middle East, please visit icademymiddleeast.com or contact the school on 04 440 1212 or email email@example.com
The author is Director of School Partnerships, Middle East and Africa